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Lecture to discuss implicit attitudes in tort law

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This year's Monsanto Lecture at Valparaiso University School of Law will focus on a 7th Circuit case on transporting toxic liquid and implicit attitudes with regards to tort law.

Professors Jon Hanson, Harvard Law School, and Douglas Kysar, Yale Law School, will use Indiana Harbor Belt R.R. Co. v. American Cyanamid Co., 916 F.2d 1174 (7th Cir. 1990), in their March 19 lecture "Abnormally Dangerous: Inequality Dissonance and the Making of Tort Law." In Indiana Harbor, authored by Judge Richard Posner, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a shipper of a hazardous chemical is held to a negligence standard for the consequences of a spill during a shipment, and that strict liability is only imposed when the high degree of risk associated with the activity can't be eliminated through due care.

The professors will examine what might explain why courts sometimes prefer a negligence standard when their logic could easily have led them to a strict liability alternative by using behavioral science.

There is growing evidence that the reasons people give for their behavior and decisions are rarely causal and are often confabulatory. The field of social cognition, for instance, has demonstrated through countless experiments that "implicit attitudes" and "implicit motives," which lie outside the purview of introspection, play a far more significant role in shaping our attitudes, ideologies, and behavior than most people realize or care to acknowledge.

The professors will discuss whether an understanding of those implicit processes might help explain why the Circuit Court held that the activity of transporting highly toxic and flammable chemicals through residential areas wasn't abnormally dangerous and thus not subject to strict liability.

The lecture begins at 4 p.m. CDT in Wesemann Hall, 656 S. Greenwich St. It is free and open to the public and one unit of CLE credit will be offered. A form will be available for self-reporting.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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